Thursday, January 31, 2008

Riley is FOUR!

Days like today are so emotional for me; most of me is so excited about the milestone my child is reaching while a tiny part would flash back to the day in celebration, to relive it once again, craziness and all. There is nothing like the incomparable joy of childbirth and that feeling is the reason I’ll probably always have a tinge of envy along with extreme happiness for all who travel the path after me. They were the best days of my life, my chance to witness three important miracles that I had the tiniest hand in bringing to the world. Four years ago today was one of my days.

Riley is FOUR! After the most determined attempt at a VBAC in history (or so I think) she also entered the world with a pull, in a manner that was apparently becoming my traditional way of delivery. After 24 hours to dilate and two more full of pushing, the decision was made that the baby just would not descend. We went to the OR and within minutes I was ready to go.

I knew she was a girl all along – I was right this time! Our sweet, tough cookie came out with the biggest pout you’d ever seen and the fullest head of black stick-out hair. We thought for sure her bottom lip would still be set in pout formation at her sixteenth birthday, but I’m happy to report it quickly relaxed! We knew instantly and simultaneously that her name would be Riley - and it was fourth on our list at the time! We just knew. She was perfect and beautiful and we got to hold her immediately; even with the c-section, it was so much less of a medical situation for us than the first time. We revelled in it and her and called the world to let them know our little one had arrived!

Within minutes the troops arrived to meet, know and love this little addition to our family. From the start she has been smart and beautiful, self-sufficient and thoughtfully reserved. She’s an old, intuitive soul and understands things you’d think she wouldn’t and could care less about other stuff. She is amazingly helpful, a great listener is already writing and starting to read, can count to 40 without missing a beat, loves Barbie’s more than any kid ever and has a determined athletic talent. She is girly-girl, too – loves to change clothes 100 times a day. She has big plans of going to American Idol to audition. She loves her sister and brother in ways that I can’t even imagine – she would do anything for them. She wants to go back to Disney, in a bad way. And she tries, diligently every single night, to make me stay in her room longer than I anticipate. And even though I fight it, she always wins a bit – I know these days will end sometime soon as she grows. I am so proud of everything she is and so honored to be her mommy.

Riley completed our family at that point in time and taught us with her miraculous arrival how big our hearts really are. She doubled their capacities and gave the word FAMILY a whole new meaning. She blessed us again and continues to do so every day.

At 9:05 am, Riley will turn four. I’ll be watching her gorgeous little face in the rear view mirror as we drive to ballet class. I’ll remember all the wonder of her birth and imagine all that lies ahead for her. And, just as I am in every single moment, I’ll be grateful from my head to my toes for my sweet Riley girl.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mommy Magic

Logan received a cool gift from her Uncle Tom - a box of magic tricks. She was instantly intrigued, but like most things that require parent assistance, I was off to a good start at mulling over how and when I would find time to manage this box of tricks in the middle of the regular ones I perform daily! Not only did this box require me to find some time, but I also needed to read, learn, practice, demonstrate and then teach the tricks to my youngster. Not an easy feat. Maybe it has been due to relief following the end of our birthday rush (officially tomorrow – don’t want to minimize Riley’s big day), but I have been lax in doing pretty much everything this week and have tried to get into their gifts with them instead. So we tore into the magic tricks.

Luckily for me, as I was reading the instructions, I heard myself say aloud, “It is far better to perform one or two tricks really well for your audience, instead of performing them all badly.” Logan seemed to get this, so we started with one and I had some back up for not delving into all of them at once. We picked the ‘balls fall through the cups’ trick. As Logan and Riley brushed their American Dolls’ hair, I read through the instructions step-by-step, so I could learn the trick myself. I had no idea that they were even watching since they were chatting away with each other. I read the steps out loud – pretty much anyone looking on would have known exactly what I was doing and what the “magic” really was. I won’t try to write about it all, it won’t make sense. The final step calls for a magical tap on the overturned stack of cups and then you lift the stack to reveal a ball that has magically appeared. My two girls caught this move and you would have thought I made a real fairy princess appear in our kitchen. Their reaction was priceless.

They screamed and said “Whoa!” Their eyes were as big as saucers. Their mouths wide open. I heard things like: “Mom, how did you do that?” and “You’re really doing magic!” It was nothing less than awesome. And for as smart as they are, I felt great knowing that I still had the simple power to amaze them, to have them think I was pretty darn cool and even a little magical. Time is fleeting…what was I thinking while wondering how I’d make the time for this box of tricks? Every second was worth it for those innocent reactions that only a four and six year old could have.

Of course reality stuck cold and hard with in minutes; Logan didn’t want to share and Riley wanted a turn with the cups. A humdinger of a fight ensued. But it didn’t matter to me; I was just a happy mom, basking in her magical moment.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Party - Wooo!

Well, I think it was a success, but not without its interesting moments. The girls’ party was last night and we were blessed with all sorts of wonderful friends and family here to celebrate. With eight kids around, not our usually party mind you, it was kind of nuts! They all added some spice to what may have otherwise been a run of the mill gathering.

One mellow little dude took a chomp from another who took it upon himself to give the first a spanking, another ace manipulator worked her way into an early treat bag, while another tried to talk Riley into giving up some of her goods because “I NEEEEED them!” Finn wandered in an out of sight, happy to be left alone for awhile, I’m sure. Hannah Montana raked in the money. Barbies were played with, sugar was gulped in mass quantities, Webkinz were counted, kids were chased, candles were lit and two little princesses were queens for the day. For us all, there was never a dull moment and there are lots of pictures to prove it! (Note: Better pictures coming soon - I just realized that my photo editor was on a trial basis - ugh!!)

And now Mommy can rest! February rules. Thanks to all who joined in on the fun at our home or in spirit! We love you!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Old List

While cleaning my office this week, I found this list that I made more than ten years ago. It’s on a random legal pad, with no title, but what it is – is obvious. I vaguely remember writing it, on an airplane, flying between Chicago and Tampa shortly after we got married. It’s a laundry list of all the things, at that point in time, that I wanted to do in my life. It was funny to find it, and amazing that I haven’t seen it before now with the moves from both Riverside and then Naperville. It definitely feels like someone in her mid-twenties jotted this down. Most of the things I still want to do – some don’t seem remotely critical at this point in my life. More importantly, I have accomplished several. It may not be a ton of items knocked off, but when you consider what they are – they might just be the most significant ones!

I think it needs a revision, or some additions – one day soon I’ll get to that. For now, I thought it might be fun to see. In no important order except the one I wrote them in, here they are:

Graduate from college
Take my mom on an all expense paid trip
Run 10 miles
Be in the best possible physical shape
Travel through Europe – all over
Go to Australia
Go to Key West
Go to Alaska
Do some type of mission work in another country
Have a collection of antiques
Grow a successful garden
Swim with dolphins
Ride in a hot air balloon
Slalom on water skis
Ski a “black”
Refurbish an old house
Write something that gets published
Read the classics
Have a child
Nurse my child
Own a couple of horses
Learn to play an instrument / piano?
Have one moment in time where I can truly see that everyone I love is happy

Knowing that I’ve met some of these goals makes me excited to add to the list. It’s never too late to have a new dream – that’s certainly something I want my kids to believe. I have totally shared my excitement about my writing work with the girls and I think that they really get it. For years, it’s been easy to NOT try and write anything – from the fear of rejection to complaining about the lack of time in my life – time has passed. I have felt such passion and ownership in the work I’ve done and contacts I’ve made – part of me wishes I’d done it long ago. I swear, I may be more tired, but I feel younger!

So this list is a reminder for me to keep at it, keep dreaming up new dreams, and keep hammering away at the older ones. And the cool thing is, if our kids always see us beginning new things and following our dreams, hopefully they’ll always do that too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fabulous Flatulence

Sometimes I forget what a glamorous life I lead. Last night, I dined with the most fabulous royalty; a fairy princess and a rock star in a flapper dress and tap shoes. One was very disappointed that she could not wear her recently acquired Libby Lu hair piece, but her lady-in-waiting was not up for washing out the hairspray before bed. I chuckled as I thought about what I normally consider a not so glamorous life. (Come on, I was seated next to a prince in a white turtleneck smeared with cheesy rice and ketchup.) All of a sudden I realized it’s all in the perspective!

I mean, we have tea parties all the time and my two tiny, barely-on-the-growth-chart girls are usually half naked in tutus or dress up gowns (it was SIX degrees today!) We regularly have “help” setting the table or doing the dusting around here. Most of the inhabitants that live here are welcome to participate in continuous freedom of personal expression – that’s pretty exciting. We see regular theatrical and chorus productions for free. We experience huge personality explosions, even tantrums, quickly followed by the best make up sessions on the planet. At least three of us grow daily, continually mastering new skills and expanding our educational bases. Most of us have regular manicures, pedicures and new hairstyles. Around this time of year especially, there is a continuous showering of gifts. Three of us have a chauffeur, so that’s pretty cool. We dine out frequently and who cares that most places resemble my high school cafeteria in one way or another?

The conversation around our home is always intriguing; from the correct pronunciation of Riley’s “R’s” to Finn’s newfound ability to announce his bowel movements, to the recital of the canned greeting to be used when selling Logan’s girl scout cookies. (I’m kidding completely about this, of course. The conversation with and between my kids is one of my favorite mommy benefits!) Occasionally, the adults even speak directly to each other, but as was the case last night, we experienced a mid-sentence interruption of loud flatulence and a glorious uproar of laughter ensued.

“Nothing like a good “fart” to get you grateful for the reality of your life,” I thought. Suddenly the craziness of our weekend (two birthday parties, a night out which took some serious convincing on my part and our kitchen and family room being painted) was swept away and replaced with lots of smiles and a good release of happy endorphins swimming through my veins. Sometimes I think I need to get out to recharge, but maybe not. Maybe all it takes is some good old gas (not mine!) to get me remembering how glamorous my life really is!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Logan turns SIX!

Six years ago today at 4:12 am, our lives were changed forever as our sweet baby entered the world with a pull in lieu of a push. In the hustle and bustle of the busy OR, I almost missed it when our doctor announced, “It’s a girl!” My tears flowed like chocolate milk off the edge of the table and I repeated, “It’s a girl? I can’t believe it’s a girl!” again and again. The relief on daddy’s face was palpable as if we finally had come to our long needed u-turn and our lives would again begin moving in the right direction. It may not have been as clear cut as that, but it did happen with time. The medications I’d been on had taken their toll and there were lots of things that had to work themselves out. Whatever. It didn’t matter anymore, she was here, and she was our focus!

She had curly, dark hair, beautiful blue eyes and the smallest fingers and toes imaginable. Her tiny little face was battered and bruised from her sideways attempt at getting out into the world the traditional way – you could say her face was “coned.” An extra heartbeat caused them to rush her away to the NICU before we even got to hold her, but it resolved itself soon and by 9:30 am, we got her, all to ourselves and named her Logan. She was strong from before birth, from all that she went through in there, and our other choices just didn’t do her justice. She was already different, already a survivor.

From her first moments, Logan has done amazing things. She is smart and sweet and intuitive and talked around eleven months in understandable words. She waved to the crowd at church on her baptism as if we had rehearsed it for months. While at day care between the ages of 1 and 2, the day care provider credited her with teaching a fellow 21/2 year old “classmate” to talk. Her preschool teachers said that she obviously sees the importance of being a friend to all, always including everyone happily, but having the strength to stand up for herself when needed. She is loving beyond words and showers us all with kisses and “I love you’s” by the hour. There is not another person on Earth who is more ticklish or who wants to be tickled more. She is a good and helpful big sister and completes any “helping” task with enthusiasm. For as much as she loves school, she does not like to get out of bed on school days – but hey, who doesn’t have a flaw? (Just kidding, she’s human, no doubt!)

For all of us who gladly make up Logan’s inner circle, she transformed us into new people. She made us Mommy and Daddy, Grandmas and Grandpas and uncles and aunts. She added dimension to our worlds and brought light and love to us on a silver platter from heaven itself. She made us all so much better.

So at 4:12 am today, well, I was actually asleep. I had thought my motherly instinct would rouse me, maybe a few minutes early with time enough to sit on the edge of Logan’s bed and watch as she turned six. Yeah, the internal alarm clock was a tad off and I woke at 5:20 and made it there a little late. And there she was, my six year old – it seems unimaginable that so much time as passed so quickly. She was on her back, mouth slightly open, in cozy puppy PJ’s with her covers half off and her American Girl doll in a cradle butted right along side her. Her curls wildly framed her face, her thumb no longer an issue; she was a baby and big girl in the same instant. My dreams for her filled the room, my eyes filled with tears; my heart fills with more love every moment since she entered our world. My God, we have been blessed.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Five Years and 364 Days

Five years and 364 days ago I was just waiting. Hooked up to four different IV’s, blown up from prednisone, pre-eclamptic, diabetic, anemic and distraught following the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis at 13 weeks, I could not wait for the very complicated pregnancy chapter of my life to end and the glorious arrival of our little bean to happen. We had no idea who was coming; boy or girl, big or small, hair or no hair – you know how it goes. We had suffered through a long and mostly not fun 36 weeks and the day was finally here. With all that had gone on, my spirit soared with the idea that, within hours, our little one would arrive.

During the long wait, my mom said something I’ll never forget. It may not have been the best thing for me to hear at that very moment, but she was filled with emotion and now, as a parent, I completely understand why it came out just then. She said, “I always loved pregnancy because you have the little person all to yourself to protect and love. But, from the moment they’re born, you're letting them go, little by little. In a way, I almost hated for it to end.” At first it made me sad, but then it made me strong. I had done everything I could to ensure a safe haven for my baby on the inside and it would be an entirely different challenge now – slowly getting him or her ready to take on the world, in their own way.

True to form, my pregnancy was not going to cooperate with our plans for having our baby on January 17th. The doctor, who had informed us that we’d most likely have our new arrival by dinnertime, slowly developed a different tune and the look on his face became less optimistic about a vaginal delivery. This was bad news for me, momentarily; my body and mind were so exhausted by the trials of my pregnancy that the thought of adding surgery to the list was almost too much to bear. But, as was the case all the way through, it was out of my hands.

Our entire (I mean ENTIRE) family was in the hospital waiting room nearly the whole time I was in labor. We were about to experience grandchild numero uno on all sides and it was a big deal. Plus they had all been there for us through the struggles of my pregnancy and needed the jolt of happiness at the end almost as much as we did. I felt terrible that they were still there as the clock struck twelve and my OB informed me he’d check back in at 3 am. I was making no progress at all and of course, couldn’t sleep a wink. As I begged for ice chips and watched Mike try to dose off in the makeshift bed along side me, I thought, “I guess our baby’s birthday won’t be today after all.” And once again, I secretly confirmed my thoughts that it was a boy on the way.

Tomorrow… her unimaginably joyous arrival.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A few months ago, I planned to meet one of my oldest and dearest friends in the city for an overnight “girls’ night out” in February. Another wonderful friend of ours is meeting us - it’s been so long since we’ve really spent time together. We touched base last week to begin to talk about the details and I had to let her know that, due to birthday palooza, I would be on a big-time budget for our weekend. I asked her what she was thinking we should do and she said, “What if we just hang out at the hotel, maybe even in the lobby, and read all the magazines that we never get a chance to? We could sit in the hot tub for hours, throw all our money in a fabulous dinner and then watch a movie in our room on Friday night.” I was in love with the idea, from beginning to end, and jumped right on board.

I have found myself chuckling about it lately, though. I mean, how things have changed! A decade ago, before kids, we would have thought each other were crazy for suggesting anything like that and never would have considered it. We would have planned to do a million things, that cost a ton of money, and we would have stayed out until 4 am. Believe me, I would love to have a ton of money to spend, but the thought of staying out until 4 makes me cringe. Yes, I am much more enticed by the thought of hours on end of peace and quiet alternating with catching up time; both without the interruption of the little voices I love so much. I am enamored with the images and feelings of relaxing in a hot tub, showering without a knock on the shower door, getting ready and eating a shamefully delicious meal, with no one hitting me on the arm and asking for bites. I can’t wait to really connect with my friends. To end the night with a movie of our choice, to have the energy to stay awake long enough to see the credits and even talk about it for a moment and then fall into a blissful sleep – it’s too much. Finally, to top it all off with no middle-of-the-night wake up calls and the ability to sleep later than usual… well, I am excited beyond words.

Maybe it sounds boring; to many I’m sure it does. But it’s exactly what I need; just 24 wonderful hours to recharge. I’ve been finding myself daydreaming about it as I would have anticipated spring break in years past. I can’t wait!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Am Invisible

Today, as I continued down my laundry list of items that has been growing since before the holidays, I had this thought: “I am invisible.” Here’s what I was doing when this revelation occurred to me: replacing empty toilet paper rolls, filling empty soap dispensers, putting laundry away from a few days ago while beginning what will amount to at least five loads for today. When I filled the soap containers, I wondered whether my family members actually think that the soap never runs out.

Earlier this week, after seeing that Mike had placed an empty bottle of lotion on the bathroom vanity, I replaced it that same day. Today, I put the new package right next to his sink so that he’d realize he had more. As I did this, I had to laugh at the thought of the possibility of someone in my life who, with no spoken words, actually did this type of thing for me. I mean, can you imagine just leaving an empty milk jug on the counter and having a new one there the next morning? What about having someone miraculously refill your travel baby wipes, diapers and Kleenex so that, when caught on the spot, you always had what you needed? And lastly, can you even imagine what it might be like to actually go to the bathroom and not be stranded, staring at the empty cardboard tube?

This is what life is like for those who live here, let me tell you! Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredibly wonderful and helpful husband who comes through for me all the time, I am not complaining at all. It’s just funny to think about the possibility of having one of “me”, in my own life, to run around and handle all the behind the scenes stuff. Sounds heavenly, I think.

I would certainly enlist that “me” to watch my kids a few days a week so that I could go to the gym gloriously alone and not get called out for a big, bad diaper (diaper bag was lacking in supplies) and a bloody nose in the same week. As a matter of fact, she could do all the diapers! I would have her clean the whole house once a week, including the sheets; a dream come true. I’d certainly hand over the bulk of my laundry to her and lots of the errands that are no fun at all, like banking and groceries and paying bills. And if I had her for all that, what would I do?

Well, I’d like to think I’d be the kind of mom I want to be every minute; completely kid-absorbed and involved with energy for all kinds of playing and learning. I’d write like crazy and become my own version of Erma Bombeck, or something like that. I’d be in fabulous shape, look great when my husband walked in the door at night and cook up a gourmet storm. I’d have the Garden of Eden out back in the summer and twenty kinds of Christmas cookies for the holidays.

Damn, that sounds good.

Guess I’ll just have to try to do it without her. A girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's Next?

Why does it seem that all of life’s major events seem to leave you in the dust and longing for more? I mean, we get to the other side of weddings, holidays, even home building and all of a sudden we’re searching for life’s next big moment and something else to set our sights on. With kids, it’s even worse because those dollies and trucks don’t really provide the hours of childhood entertainment we expected; actually losing their luster not long after the security wires and twist ties have been meticulously removed. And here in the Midwest, we also have the daunting and at times, gloomy, long days of winter ahead of us. For as much as I love the moment that I pack the last of our holiday decorations, it’s always been hard to relax in the aftermath of the festivities. I find myself searching for something new to sink my teeth into.

I can remember returning from my honeymoon and realizing, with great disbelief, that it was over. I can honestly say I felt that way after the birth of my children, too (and I was all too ready to have those pregnancies come to their joyous ends in the final days, believe me!) Recently, after building our home, and truly loving it, I fell into a bit of a slump. My husband mistook my attitude for not caring for our home. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, but it took me awhile to figure out that I was just disappointed that the build up was over. I missed the daily trips to our ever-changing dwelling and mostly the anticipation of what was to come. Thankfully, in all those instances, life has certainly provided me with something new to cling to or focus on; some little seed to grow. It always does.

I guess it’s human nature that keeps us moving on and maybe that’s a good thing as long as we’re enjoying our big moments before switching gears. In our house, we have three of our five birthdays in January to celebrate. This makes living in the holiday moment a bit of a challenge for sure. Our girls, five and three, are well into birthday deliberations before school lets out for the holidays and by the time our ornaments get packed away, I have a list a mile long to contend with. A good friend coined the phrase “birthday palooza” - an undoubtedly fitting title for those of us who have two or more family birthdays in close vicinity.

I can’t tell you how much I have complained about those January birthdays; what to plan, the kids getting too many gifts, all the money out the door at once. But this year, I have a completely different outlook. I’m thankful for them and realize that they’ve made it easy on me to avoid an annual post-holiday holiday slump after all. To boot, I have a great excuse for keeping family get-togethers and celebrations simple since we’ve all just spent a month over-indulging in all sorts of good things. This year, I’ll be grateful to ride out that forward motion and plan our simple party – pizza maybe – right after the holidays. Who really needs a big spread anyway? We’re all trying to lose those five pounds we just gained, right?

Now, for what to do in February…..


So, I am at the starting point of what seems to be a very intriguing and exciting possibility: a freelance writing career. After years of writing for my own pleasure, I’m doing it, pounding the virtual pavement with tenacity and trying to find paid jobs to get this thing off the ground. I know I can write and have been blessed to be connected to a wonderful freelancer from our local area, Patti, who is amazingly helpful and supportive, gave me my first break and now a couple of paid features a month to get under my belt. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for her!

As I struggle through this month’s feature (it’s for a professional newsletter in a field that I have not worked in before) I mostly contend with the need to build confidence in my writing and my ability to pick up something new, digest it and be able to write about it. There is this period of time when writing, for me, when, no matter what I do, it just seems like chaos. All of a sudden, it clicks, I don’t know how or when it happens, but it really always does. It is the hardest part to wait out and I always think “this is the time it won’t happen!” But it comes eventually and in time. From a career standpoint, this is something I want like nothing else, and I am willing to do what it takes. No doubt it will take believing in me --- in the midst of something new, maintaining self-efficacy is a tough challenge, but surely possible.

I have a huge portfolio of personal writing endeavors, but as far as paid projects, only a few press releases and as of this coming Monday, my first byline. It is a huge deal for me and I am really proud of myself. I have other things in the works, too – I am anticipating many good things to come. At this point, believing in me might be the single most important thing I can do!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back in the Saddle

There is a special feeling about getting back in the groove after a long break; like after you’ve had a baby or been through a move. I’m feeling it right now after what seemed like endless holidays. Everyone kept saying that they couldn’t wait for school to start again and I really couldn’t relate. After two weeks of house guests and countless parties, my kids hardly had a break to speak of. Not that they didn’t have a great time mind you, I just wondered how tired they must be when I am so totally pooped!

I really was dreading the back to school thing, to be honest. Logan, a 99% sweet and easy-going child, is a bear in the mornings until her feet touch the first floor. It has been so nice to allow her to sleep late and wake up slowly, not even getting dressed until necessary most days. Riley and Finn joined in and slept late too, even though they are earlier risers. I tried to get them up a little earlier the last few days, but it was just so nice to let them stay and get more sleep and give myself the chance to linger between the sheets a little longer or hop out early for some “me” (writing, paying bills, organizing) time. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing in the peace and quiet of a sleeping house, it is still “me” time! So back to school day was soon upon us and we survived just fine.

I actually did well getting them all dressed and fed and out the door by 8:15 – I was even showered. After a stern talking to about consequences, Logan thought better of the “push back” path she almost went down. The morning was pleasurable and happy and everyone cheerfully yelled goodbye as we dropped Logan off. Riley’s drop off went without a hitch as well and I was down to one for the first time in weeks. Granted, by far the HARDEST ONE, but ONE just the same. The little man and I headed out to do a few returns and in the middle of it I felt extremely grateful for the opportunity to be moving along at a swift pace, with only one in my charge, and actually to be knocking things off my list!

As soon as we hit the grocery store, the longest errand, the monster arrived in true form. Finn cried and screamed in frustration while opening most of my groceries and fighting his seat belt. There wasn’t much I could do, he could pretty much reach anything he wanted and I needed more space than the bottom of the cart! It’s funny, I am so beyond this bothering me, if it had been Logan as a baby, I would have died of embarrassment. But with Finn, I just plug along, trying to get the day’s deeds done. He got over himself eventually and by the time we checked out had a full on flirt fest with the gals who bagged our groceries. They, who had not witnessed Godzilla in the aisles, all thought he was the perfect angel - which, despite his colorful personality, he definitely is.

Yes, it is good to be back in the saddle. I definitely welcome our routine back with open arms, poop in the horseshoes, and all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Speaking of gratitude… I have a lot of it to go around this holiday season. What a perfect way to kick off the new year in my blog; thanking everyone for all the things they have done to lighten my load over the past weeks.

First of all, I’ve got to thank Mike for being the amazingly helpful husband that he is. It is nearly impossible for him to even think of leaving work early or to consider anything less than 12 hours a good day’s work, so for the couple of times he arrived home between 4 and 5, I am greatly appreciative. That is worst time of day for most of us and one of the greatest gifts is having the reserves show up to support you right then. It doesn’t get any better than when the “reserves” is daddy. Mike helps in every way he can, I couldn’t dream of a better husband or father. He helped me make it through our five family Christmas celebrations when both of us were ready to cancel; and he made them fun, too. He jumped right in when Finn started puking two days after Christmas and today left for work feeling queasy. To top it off, he ends to holidays every year with a birthday celebration that is lacking some enthusiasm since were all so tuckered out. And he doesn’t mind a bit. He is simply the best and I am so thankful for him.

Next, I am so grateful that my kids kept it together through most of the holidays with only a few minor and expected meltdowns along the way. It is a lot to handle for sure and they really do it so well. With the possible exception of the fact that at every party we host and attend, my kids are asking me where the presents are, I think they have done remarkably well and feel a lot of gratitude for the wonderful family they have and all that have received. More importantly, I have witnessed them experience great joy in giving to others this holiday season – the best gift of all.

Our parents have helped so much this holiday season, too. My mom took more than a couple days off work to help out and watch the kids so I could attend events at both Logan and Riley’s schools, get some writing done and prepare for our various house guests. She babysat at night too, and always leaves the house in perfect condition – cleaner than how she found it. She helped me think through gift and party ideas. She provided me with and outlet to vent in much needed situations of holiday stress. More importantly, she’s my new partner at the gym – which is a great thing for both of us! Our kids couldn’t love her more and I am enormously grateful for her every step of the way!

Mike’s Dad and Mary were so wonderful to watch the kids so that I could get out and go to that much needed gym. They visit at a time when everyone is worn out and tired and always make it so much fun. The kids (and we) adore them. There’s always some new gadget or technology purchased for us while they’re here – this time its software to load our camcorder tapes onto the computer – that makes our crazy kid-filled life easier in a big way. We are so thankful for them in our lives and don’t know what we’d do without them. Grandmom even picked up the stomach flu while visiting, but still sat at Mike’s birthday dinner with a smile. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My dad joined in the craziness as well, by spending two days here babysitting pre-holiday so I could finish up shopping and do some writing. Although he felt he left a mess behind, he also left three happy kids that were glad to spend the time with him and won’t stop asking the rest of us to play the “flush the toilet” game. I am very thankful for the kid-free errands and the time they got to spend together.

Mike’s mom put out a wonderful spread for the holidays and opened up her home to our crew despite the fact that it’s on the market (with new carpeting!) She helped us out with watching the kids so we could have a much needed dinner with good friends. We are so lucky to have her in our lives.

I’m grateful to everyone who touched our lives this holiday season; all our brothers and my sister, friends and extended family, the parents and kids at school for making holiday celebrations wonderful. I wish everyone a healthy, happy new year and heart full of joy all year long.

It sure sounds like I have a lot of help… what do I have to complain about??

Happy New Year!